The undying optimism of Kenyans never ceases to amaze. Take for instance the by-elections in Kangema, Ndhiwa and Kajiado North.
They were supposed to be a window into Ballot 2013, but alas, it appears many Kenyans will be left wondering whether there is a structural flaw whenever the word election” is uttered here.
There were early morning reports of punch-ups and physical assaults in Ndhiwa pitting rival party supporters that saw police swiftly apprehend the perpetrators before they could derail the rest of the polls. In Kangema, the growing din of voter manipulation, bribery and other malpractice persisted through out the day like a salacious rumour.
Kajiado North was, perhaps, the only place with a record ten aspirants and little or no voter intimidation and skullduggery.
The low turnout will be better explained by post-election analysts while the hordes of youths hanging around shops and market centres waiting for handouts in order to go out and vote was depressing and an indictment of our social mores.
For a three-point by-election that would have been a walk in the park for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to oversee, it has come out that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Why?
Implementation of a new Constitution seems to have been an end in itself. Politicians and their reliance on the ethnic bloc handout culture have not changed. Voters’ attitudes are stuck in a groove circa 2007.
Justice (Rtd) Kriegler
However, give the IEBC and police their just dues for successfully handling yesterday’s by-elections. On the flipside, there are echoes of Justice (rtd) Johann Kriegler’s caution that a paradigm shift must be made if Kenyan election years are to be purged of the violence, manipulation and bribery tags.
So did these by-elections pass the litmus test of being a harbinger to next year’s general election?
Not by a long shot.
And that is saying a lot